Tag Archives: Inspirational

Where Have I Been???

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“Sometimes the person who’s been there for everyone else needs to be there for herself.” S. Kim Henson

I’m funniest in the shower, like this morning. I asked myself a slightly revised question from the movie Sabrina, and in the same tone William Holden asked it of Audrey Hepburn, “Where have I been all my life?”

I laughed, and then, giving it a second thought, genuinely asked it out loud, “Where have I been all my life?”

By the time I wrapped myself in a towel, I sounded annoyed, “Where have I been all my life?”

An hour later, I scrolled through Christmas photos on my phone and found the one I shared above of my three-year-old granddaughter. Her self-studying picture reminded me I hadn’t answered my question, and to answer it gently.

A friend’s suggestion to evaluate my life in seven-year scenes, or thereabouts, seemed a good idea for coming up with an account of where I’ve been. Aside from specifics, maybe you’ll relate.

I spent the first eight years or so of my life – Scene One – growing up on military bases in New York. Mom disliked being away from her family in South Carolina, which meant Dad tried appeasing her until he could get her back to the South. Homesick wasn’t all that was wrong, so I set out at a very young age to figure out and fix us.

I confused a playful childhood with child labor – trying to be silly enough, cute enough, and obedient enough to give Mom and Dad reasons to lighten up, laugh, and be happy in place of her crying and him covering his pain with anger.

Dad was stationed in Vietnam the first year of Scene Two, around the time I turned nine. He moved Mom, my brother, and me to Mom’s childhood home in South Carolina, which also meant being moved in with my great aunt who raised my mom. I cherished Aunt Viola, but I think Dad felt differently. When he returned to the states, he bought a motel in a nearby resort town and lived there seven, then eight, and finally nine months out of every year.

By then, I was hiding out because we weren’t normal anymore. We no longer had a dad, a mom, and siblings living together while Dad worked 9 to 5. Being “not normal anymore” also meant my mentally ill uncle moved in and out of my great aunt’s house, so he lived with us on and off. His disturbing behavior left behind even more to hide.

During Scene Three, I graduated from high school, chose a local college since I was too anxious to move away, and attached myself to my future husband to help me escape the house I wouldn’t leave. We eloped at age 20. Mom gifted us baby presents because she was certain I’d run off to get married because I’d gotten pregnant. Our first child was born five years later.

I ran, although uncertain where I was headed. In retrospect, I was making a run for the metaphorical white picket fence, a place where I convinced myself I’d feel loved enough, taken care of enough, and safe enough.

For the next 28 years, the next four scenes of my life, I moved back to my hometown to live close by my parents who I eventually distanced myself from. I made up a fairytale marriage. I birthed and raised two children (who, by the way, are my two accomplishments that are “enough”). I worked determinedly and went back to school for degrees to teach, counsel, supervise, and write so as to increase my income and my self-worth, and to prove myself to people who weren’t paying much attention. I chose some wrong friends who made me feel important for the same “wrong” reason I picked them – their prominence, not their praiseworthiness. Most of my actions were okay, but my motives, well, not so much. I did a lot of what I did in hopes that I’d earn enough, buy enough, elevate myself enough, help enough, be seen enough, be needed enough, accomplish enough to ultimately persuade myself I was enough.

I immersed myself in other people’s scenes so I wouldn’t have to engage in my own conflicted ones. I lost myself in their lives because I wasn’t sure how to get my own.

It wasn’t until my most recent scene, preceded by Dad’s death and when I was coming up on 50, that I began showing up the way I believe we’re supposed to – for me, for my life’s purpose, and for my God. I stepped back from being confused, hiding, running, and immersing myself in others. I’m excited you’re still reading because this is the scene with the hashtags, the ones that help us focus on ourselves. #selfcaringin2017 #gettingyourownlife #whilelovingthepeopleinit

But first, before I worked my way up to wondering Where have I been all my life?, I wondered where all these people, places, and things in my life came from. At half-a-century-old (that’ll get your attention), I was no longer able to disregard uncomfortable questions that kept surfacing.

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Questions like …

Why am I living in this big house? In this town? Why do I do for others what they can and should do for themselves? Why do I spend time with people I discern aren’t friends or even kind, for that matter? Why’d I spend money on that? Why do I tolerate disrespect? Lying? Others calling me crazy when they’re the ones driving me there? Why don’t I feel emotionally safe? Why don’t I fit in at church? Any church? Ever? Why do I rise to others’ expectations, but not my own? Why am I avoiding the gym? Why do I sidestep genuine friendships? Why am I procrastinating when productivity makes me feel good? Why don’t I pick up the phone when I need someone? Why don’t I like to cook? Why do I make writing difficult? Why am I eating a third Reese Cup?

Nine years of “cleaning house,” sometimes literally like the time we downsized from 4,000 to 1,000 square feet, and I’m finally asking the foundational question that undergirds the rest, “Where have I been all my life?”

 … and how appropriate for it to pop into my head at the start of 2017, the year I’ve committed to self-care … and how appropriate during a shower because water is a big part of my self-care.

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 So, where have I been all my life? Answer the question, already.

I’m where most of us are right now, no matter our ages – I’m right here (like on the map in a shopping center: “You are here”) and doing all I can to make my story better. Aren’t we all? Isn’t “being better” what most of us attempt daily in our lives? We try to look younger, eat healthier, get wealthier, promote louder, work harder, act calmer, help further, workout longer, treat others kinder, connect deeper, pray profounder, feel stronger, and all so we’ll be better.

We just want to “arrive,” and though arriving is impossible this side of heaven, I believe one inroad to being better is self-care. I hope you’re with me since it’s easier to get better together. #selfcaringin2017

In This Together,
Kim

I’m inviting you back next week to read about acceptance and tolerance. #selfcaring2017 #whilelovingthepeopleinit

My Word for 2017 – Self-Care

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“One word can change everything.” OneWord365.com

Every year since 2012, instead of making resolutions, I’ve chosen a word of the year. Unlike resolutions, I actually remember my word and I make progress because of it. So far, my words have been …

2012 – Incremental
2013 – Ponder
2014 – Content
2015 – Revise & Momentum
2016 – Love

I panic near the end of the year and try to force a word into Word of the Year if I haven’t yet figured out one or if one hasn’t “found” me, which is usually how it works. Sometimes a word shows up so many times, I can’t ignore it. Or I hear it in a song and it sounds like the only word being sung. Or it shows up in a meaningful quote or sermon or passage from a book.

By mid-December, I tried to coerce myself into choosing one of these words: laughter, reassurance, freedom. “Reassurance” almost made the cut, until the shower at my daughter’s house (I’d spent the night at her home after babysitting my grandkids) when “self-care” popped into my head. I do my best thinking on walks and in the shower. In November, I began a 10-session online course on the topic of self-care, so I’m guessing the word was lying in wait.

While dressing, I asked my daughter, who, by the way, knew nothing about the course, “If you picked any word for me in 2017, what would it be?”

“Self-care,” she said after she thought for about three seconds.

I squealed.

“That settles it. Self-care is my word,” I said.

Yep, that’s how it usually works for me.

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Last year, I started another practice based on Word of the Year – I put up cover photos on Facebook that only related to my word for 2016, which was love, so I posted lots of Love-ly hearts. I’ll do the same this year except the images will be about self-care. Today’s cover photo seemed a good way to start off 2017’s self-care. It’s a poster of a bathtub with the saying, “Happiness is a long hot bubble bath. Relax. Recharge. Renew.”

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Since Word of the Year is turning into quite the project for me, I’m adding a hashtag for 2017 in addition to the two I already regularly use, #GettingYourOwnLife #WhileLovingthePeopleInIt. This year’s highlight is #selfcaringin2017 because women need all the help and hashtags we can get when it comes to living our lives and taking care of ourselves.

Have you chosen a word for 2017? If so, let us know what it is. I’ll be happy to share “self-care” with anyone who wants to join me for a whole year of taking care of us. I plan to blog about it often.

In This Together,
Kim

Thanks for the pix, Pixabay.com

Thanks for the suggestion about a hashtag in 2017, Jenine.

Thanks for the course, Lucille.

 

Click the link if you’re interested in signing up for the 10-session work-at-your-own-pace course I mentioned above for only $59, Renaissance U: Lessons on Selfcare taught by a Licensed Professional Counselor.

Friend Lucille Zimmerman, instructor of the course, covers self-care topics including The Fine Art of Solitude, The Fine Art of Boundaries, and The Fine Art of Play. Lucille is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a private practice in Littleton, Colorado. She’s an affiliate faculty professor at Colorado Christian University. She is also the author of Renewed: Finding Your Inner Happy in an Overwhelmed World.

 

 

What’s Wrong with Me?

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“Don’t let yourself bring you down.” Unknown

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

I say this too often. I repeat it again and again when, truth be told, I do know what’s wrong with me. And I know how to fix it, but I don’t do it. And that’s what’s wrong – I let myself down.

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Instead of admitting I’m avoiding the top priority on my to-do list, I’ll blame my husband, my kids, the dog, and even someone on Facebook where I’m spending too much time. I’ll blame my mental state, my age, my weight, and my mother. If you show up at my house unexpected, I’ll blame you.

By now, I should recognize the warning signs in the form of destructive habits, but usually I don’t until I get to the final stage of “I let myself down.”

My bad habits include having trouble settling down for bed, a restless night’s sleep, and hitting the snooze button a dozen times the next morning. Napping for two hours instead of 30 minutes. Feeling frustrated and acting on it. Eating chocolate late at night and pacing around during the day without accomplishing much. Scrolling Facebook for hours. Yeah, it’s a long list. Skipping the gym and most anything else that’s good for me, so I can focus on how to fix what’s wrong. Makes sense, huh? It’s not until I’m feeling anxious, insecure, and near tears (the final stage of “I let myself down”) that I’ll admit I’m letting myself down.

My choices narrow to either confessing and fixing it by doing what I’m supposed to be doing or melting down over and over.

I get more afraid by the minute when I’m in the middle of the cycle. It happened last week when I didn’t write a post for my blog. Instead of writing, which is my important thing, I did everything else on my list and then some, all the while dragging my anxiety about not writing through the weekend and into the beginning of this week.

If I’d keep track of my fearful episodes, I’d likely notice they flare up during my “I let myself down” times more so than during the times when I’m getting my own life, even if the latter is scary stuff like writing on a personal topic that makes me uncomfortable or making a video to post online.

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A simple example that’s helping me change how I align my days is to follow how I reach my daily Fitbit goal, which is 10,000 steps. When I’m up by 8 and accomplish my steps by noon, it’s easy to get 15,000 or even 20,000 steps by bedtime, and I sleep better. However, on the days I only accumulate 5,000 steps by mid-afternoon, getting that same amount again before the day’s end feels nearly impossible. I give up after dinner and fall asleep on the couch.

I’m guessing there’s a universal law out there that makes this all make sense. The same law that helps create a productive and “feel good” day also has the potential to make my next 24 hours miserable when I don’t do what I’m supposed to do. Unless I figure out a way to sidestep it, I’m left with the same solution I wrote in a blog post six years ago.

Brian Tracy, in his book Eat That Frog!, offers 21 ways to stop procrastinating and accomplish more in less time. He suggests planning each day in advance. He says stop doing so much and do what’s important. And get this, Tracy recommends following the 80/20 Rule, similar to my Fitbit phenomenon. He says there are typically two items on a list of 10 that will account for 80 percent of the day’s results. Tackle those two things first and the rest of our list will either be accomplished easily and quickly or show up for what it really is, insignificant.

I sometimes pretend I don’t know what my important thing is, or that if I accomplish the other eight or nine things on my list, I’ll be more settled, prepared, and focused to undertake the important thing. Instead, I’m tired and put it off until tomorrow or next week, like this blog post.

Another game I play is tricking myself into thinking something else is more important than the important thing. In my case, it’s hard to overlook, though, since I only have one important thing on my to-do list. It is writing.

Today, I did my important thing and wrote this post. I can’t adequately describe how relieved I feel as I wind down this day and this story, so I’ll put out a call to action in case someone else wants to experience it for themselves.

If you’re wrangled up in life and struggling with your emotions, and most likely letting yourself down, put all of that to one side and do the one or two important things on your list. Take a chance on it working for you like it did for me this afternoon. I hope you’ll share it with us when it does. #GettingYourOwnLife

In This Together,
Kim

Thanks for the first two images, Pixabay.
Thanks for the motivation, Fitbit.

One Foot On a Banana Peel, the Other at Kentucky Fried Chicken (a post about answering our calling at the age we are)

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“The days you work are the best days.” Georgia O’Keeffe

Four blog posts ago, I wrote “Choose Well” about sitting still so as not to miss the magic. This week’s post is about working, and for the same reason … so we don’t miss the magic.

A phone conversation gave me the idea for this post when a friend almost half my age said, “I’m afraid I’m going to be in my 40s, look back, and realize I haven’t accomplished my goals.”

I wanted to interrupt, but I didn’t, and say, “And your problem is? You’re not even mid-thirties.”

They finished, “I’ll end up feeling like a failure.”

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Before I gave into lecturing about accomplishments and age and having time on their side, my thoughts jumped to fried chicken. You know, the fowl that was fried up by Harland Sanders, the colonel of chicken and founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken at age 62 (after he retired and drew his first social security check). He may have something to say about purposely planning not to work and being without purpose at any age.

I wanted to lecture because, like my friend on the phone, I’m afraid of getting too old to accomplish what I want. If I’d started on my spiel, I would have been talking to myself. I’m happy Colonel Sanders stopped me, and even happier he’s a reminder we’re never too old to dream and live it. We’re never too old for magic. 

In the meantime and because I’ve been back and forth on this topic for several years, I met with my financial advisor to review our retirement plan and several options for moving forward with retirement faster. Even though friends who recently retired from teaching said they’d absolutely find something to do besides sit around, I figured my husband and I needed a plan in place for full retirement. I secretly held onto the idea of wanting a lot of time off until I wrote last week’s blog post, “Called to What?,” about finding work we love and working it to the end. We can’t be irresponsible about getting older, but it’ll undoubtedly make our “retirement” plan easier to save for if we don’t plan to retire.

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All that said … 

We’re rethinking everything. We want one week off a month for the rest of our lives, and, once in a while, two so we can travel. We want something to do, and we want to love it daily. We want purpose. We want to spend time with kids and grandkids, but not end up poster parents for codependency. We want to tap into creativity and maybe tap dance. Wait, I meant line dance. We want to continue most of what we’re doing now. I want to write. John wants to work on our houses.

A friend’s comment on last week’s blog post confirmed what we’d already envisioned for our lives (minus having a baby), but we started changing it up the more often clerks gave us senior discounts and the more often we thought about retirement looming. Sybil wrote, “The Bible does not use the word retire. Moses was 80 going strong. Sarah was 100, giving birth. Watch out world, there is a generation of great people wanting to fill their passions.”

Her comment reminded me of one of the quotes I shared last week. It’s by Howard Thurman, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

The world needs us to come alive before we retire and die. Once we’ve come alive, there’ll be no time to retire. 

Writer Richard Feloni put together an article about “People Who Became Successful After Age 40.” I thought it’d be fun and inspiring to share some of the personalities he wrote about.

Fun & Inspiring 

Jack Weil founded a popular cowboy brand, Rockmount Ranch Wear, and stayed its CEO until he died at age 107.

Rodney Dangerfield’s break as a comedian didn’t happen until he appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show at age 46.

Julia Child wrote her first cookbook that launched her career as a celebrity chef when she was 50.

Ray Kroc was a milkshake device salesman before buying McDonald’s at age 52 and making it into the world’s biggest fast-food franchise.

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Vera Wang didn’t get started as a designer until she was 40. Gary Heavin was the same age when he opened the first Curves fitness center. Henry Ford was 45 when he created the Model T. My two favorites on the list are Laura Ingalls Wilder who published the first of her Little House books at age 65 and Grandma Moses who started her painting career at 78. Who is your favorite?

#GettingYourOwnLife can happen at any age, and it doesn’t have to be a fancy career like Vera Wang’s or a moneymaker like McDonald’s. It just needs to be work that gives us purpose. We can’t afford to get tired and retire before we figure it out, before we find our magic.

Where are you headed besides retirement?

In This Together,
Kim

I’m not sure it’s accurate about Colonel Sanders receiving his social security check, but I included it just in case it is since it makes a great story.

Thanks for the pics, Pixabay.com.

Called to What?

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Today’s writing is more a blog list than a post. With every click, another piece of inspiration showed up that I wanted to share. I couldn’t narrow “our calling” down to a story, so I decided to include it all –  quotes, links, and insights, especially since working our calling is the essence of what I blog about. It’s our way of getting our own lives. (#GettingYourOwnLife)

Compelling Quotes about Our Calling

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Howard Thurman

“Live bravely enough to follow the calling in your heart.” Melanie Moushigian Koulouris

“If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you right into your purpose.” Bishop T. D. Jakes

“God often uses our deepest pain as the launching pad of our greatest calling.” Unknown

“The things you are passionate about are not random. They are your calling.” Fabienne Fredrickson

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Work Put Into Perspective

Here’s what Michael Hyatt says about saying “no” to retirement in his blog post, “Why Retirement Is A Dirty Word.”

“In fact, the more I think about the purpose and meaning of work, the more I’m convinced that nothing destroys our sense of purpose and health more than the modern notion of retirement. It’s detrimental to us individually and collectively,” said Hyatt.

In the same blog post and under his subtitle “How To Murder Your Heart,” Hyatt wrote, “The effect (of retirement) is that we’ve now raised a few generations to look for fulfillment in the pasture, not their work. Satisfaction is a future thing, not a present possibility. Joy is for later. Meaning and significance comes from checking out down the road.”

He winds down the article with a story about Duke Ellington. When Ellington was asked why he didn’t retire since he was obviously financially secure, Ellington said, “Retire to what?”

Hyatt said about Ellington’s answer, “It wasn’t that home was so empty. It was that his work was so full. He lived his art. Retiring would have been like turning off his own soul.”

“If you’re doing meaningful work you enjoy, why would you ever want to quit?” said Hyatt.

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The Significance of Our Calling

 No surprise that Sunday’s sermon was on the topic of our calling since I’ve been inundated with it. The message was delivered by Dr. Allen C. Hughes who said, “We were wired from the beginning to do meaningful work whether it’s preaching, construction, or landscaping, and we will never be content until we get clarity on what that is and do it.”

He said when people tell him what they plan to do later on or during retirement, things that include working their passion, he asks, “Why not do it now?”

His talk reminded me of Marsha Sinetar’s book, Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow: Discovering Your Right Livelihood. It was published in 1989, which is around the time I read it, only to return to my unfulfilling job. However, I couldn’t unread her words, hence the search for my calling began a long, long, long time ago.

“Our Call to Work,” an article that appeared on the site of U.S. News & World Report, opened with this quote, “Producing and innovating is doing God’s work.”

The writer, Nicholas Leone, stated statistics from a recent Gallup poll that showed 55 percent of Americans derive identity from their work, yet 70 percent of them are disconnected from that same work. Amy Wrzesniewski, professor at Yale University School of Management, believes work orientation has something to do with it. “According to her research, job orientated individuals view their work as a means to an end. Career oriented individuals focus on success. Individuals with a calling view their work as part of their identity and are happier,” said Leone.

Another interesting point from the article, “The word for work in the scriptures is translated as both work and worship. Our work and worship are one and the same.”

Distraction From Our Calling

Also from Sunday’s sermon, Dr. Hughes listed three things that distract us from working our calling.

  1. Believing work is a bad thing, therefore we try to get out of it in lieu of doing what we were put here to do. We end up lazy and miserable instead of productive and gratified.
  2. Doing the wrong work. We decide we’ll seek out our right livelihood later, after we’ve made enough money, worked a job with benefits, or sacrificed enough to possibly retire early.
  3. Busying ourselves with too much work in an attempt to be important, successful, or fulfilled. The truth is, “right work” is the only thing that satisfies.

How to Search For or Stumble Onto Our Calling

Forbes.com published an article titled “20 Ways to Find Your Calling.” The writer’s advice is spot on when it comes to finding the work we love or having it find us, like my writing found me. My personal favorites from her list include spend time before money and find a problem to solve. My problem’s been #GettingYourOwnLife #WhileLovingthePeopleInIt.

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I would add …

  • Dedicate attention and time to what you love. If you want to turn your passion into a career, figure out how to make money doing it. I believe there’s always a way.
  • Listen to people, to music, to quotes, to movies, to life. You never know what may point you towards your calling.
  • Listen to God and to yourself. His guidance and your heart are key places to go for direction.
  • Ask questions like …

What are people saying I’m good at?
What job would I work for free?
What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?

Stay tuned next week for more about our calling unless I’m on overload and running away from mine. Please add your two cents. It’s worth a million dollars to me and our readers.

In This Together,
Kim

Family is Not My Calling

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“Sometimes we have to figure out what our calling is not in order to find out what it is.” s. kim henson

No doubt there are moms and dads called to full-time parenting, grandparents called to full-time grandparenting, and wives, daughters, and sisters called to helping their families around the clock, but I’m not one them. Not now, anyway. It was a weird day when I thought, Maybe family’s not my calling.

Even though I’ve been restless for a while about getting my own life, I wasn’t comfortable with the message. After all, family’s been my life even as a child. I remember being compliant when mom walked me to school even though the other kids on the Air Force base walked alone. As a teen, I accommodated my parents instead of friends. When I was a young adult and with a family of my own, I continued to cater to what I thought my parents wanted. I carried on this same sense of care and responsibility into marriage and parenting, and maybe a little too far as my children grew up.

While journaling one day, I wrote several pages about my calling not being family, “God, could this be your way of prompting me to focus more on my purpose and less on what I think they expect?”

“They” included my husband, my two grown children, and their growing families. I answered my own question. God wants more attention, of course, even though I can’t imagine he’s displeased with the attention I’ve given my family. For more than four decades, my parents, my husband, and my two children have been the reasons I’ve gotten out of bed every morning. My daughter and I got excited about the idea I came up with not long ago, “What if, instead of writing, being a grandmother is my calling?”

We laughed because we both knew this wasn’t the case, even if I’d prefer it. After all, I’m good at being Mammy.

I’ve had to come to terms with why letting go of my family’s been hard, and I’m not the only one who’s figuring it out. While researching parenting as a calling, I stumbled on a book I added to my reading list. It’s by Christian author and mom of six grown children, Lesley Leyland Fields. The title is “Parenting Is Your Highest Calling” and 8 Other Myths That Trap Us in Worry and Guilt.

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My guess is, there are a lot of women like me who feel a pull to do something in life besides family, but family is a strong force to contend with. There are also women who don’t want to move on past family, but it’s good for us and for them when we get our own lives. They need us to let go and move on so they can too.

Mostly it’s hard to let go of family because my husband and children are where my devotion lies. There’s nothing I’ve wanted more than to be a wife and mother. To this day, I can’t think of anything more fulfilling, although I have dreams gaining momentum.

On a lazier and less loving note, family is an easier choice than my dreams. I’ve kept my life intermingled with theirs because my role as mom is a familiar one. I know how to do it and I pretty much know the results it will reap.

And, like Lesley mentions in her book title, there’s the worry and guilt that make it hard to let go. I get afraid sometimes when I see them go through tough times and I think I can do more than I can to help. I haven’t shaken the “shoulds.”

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Getting my own life, which to me means answering God’s calling, also means I’m venturing into unknown territory and, to tell you the truth, I’m not all that adventuresome. I say this, but something stirs inside of me when I hear the word “adventure,” and when I step into that adventure by making videos, contemplating public speaking, and dabbling in watercolor.

Writing all of this is strange for me because I’m sure I’ll be misunderstood. It sounds like I’m jumping ship on my family or saying they don’t matter or even that they’re not as important as all the things I want to do, but that’s not it. Writing this is more about trying to convince myself and other women that it’s time to reprioritize our motivation (why we get out of bed), our mission, and our minutes, and I think God’s all for it. After all, I would have never thought this up on my own, Maybe family’s not my calling.

I believe by living our lives, we help our families to better live theirs.

Next week, I’ll write more about our callings. For now, I’m getting comfortable with what my calling is not. I’d love to hear from you about family and your calling or anything you’d like to share.

In This Together,
Kim

Change Only Me

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“If we had God’s power, we would change everything. If we had God’s wisdom, we’d change nothing.” Scott Richardson

If you’re a parent, especially a mother, you likely know the feeling when family gathers all together after not seeing each other for a while. Sometimes our hearts are full because of conversation and laughter, meals at favorite restaurants, and activities that keep everyone entertained and happy. These visits end with either my husband John or I saying, “I’m grateful and so proud of each one of them.”

Other times, togetherness worries a mom. When we’re up close, we notice if things don’t seem quite right like tense moments and edgy remarks, frustration, and comments about problems at work and home. I’m no less grateful and proud, I’m just no longer focused on those things. I’m fixated on what needs fixing and changing. It’s a mom thing even if not a God thing.

When our family recently gathered, John and I looked for things to do since we’re better when we’re busy, but hotel checkout and flight times, a get-together with friends, mealtimes, and naps conflicted with almost every idea. The grandkids were waterlogged and worn out after a week’s vacation in pools and beachside before arriving at our house. All six adults sat on looming deadlines whether it was my writing, our daughter getting her daughter ready to start school, or her husband beginning a business startup.

Nothing seemed particularly wrong, but neither did our time together feel right. I tried to justify it with all these reasons.

I preoccupied myself the evening they left with vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, and washing sheets, so I held off the emotional hangover until the next morning when I skipped my shower, the gym, and writing. That afternoon, I skipped lunch because John and I argued instead of eating, and not because of anything that happened between the two of us during the weekend.

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“Get your own life” (the topic I blog about most often) came to mind two or three times, but it was easier to give into louder voices in my head that said things like, “What if something’s wrong and you don’t help fix or change it?” “What if you discuss your concerns and make things worse?” “What if you don’t converse and drift apart?”

This kind of thinking convinced me I needed to write and talk to others, so I started blogging again in January. I figured I wasn’t the only wife, mom, daughter, sister, and friend who needed to be talked off the ledge for caretaking, enabling, and people pleasing and surely I wasn’t a loner when it came to being overly responsible for others. All this doing for others feeds our attitude of “fix and change everything” when the real difference (the real fix and change) happens when we get our own lives.

This doesn’t mean we have no obligations to our families because we do. I doubt it means we’ll ever completely stop worrying about them either. It does, however, explain why the quote at the beginning of this blog post is significant. Life changing, really.

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Hearing I didn’t have to change anything because God wouldn’t change anything freed me to stop replaying the weekend. I could get back to my own life and my routine.

Hearing I didn’t have to change anything because God wouldn’t change it either staved off feelings of having to do something. It reminded me to accept what is and to acknowledge things happen as they should.

Hearing I didn’t have to change anything because I didn’t know what to change anyway freed me to have family conversations last week – conversations with real people instead of conversations in my head. By the end of each one, I figured out I had nothing to change except myself. Imagine that.

“Whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.” Max Ehrmann (writer of Desiderata)

I used to sign off my blog posts “write where I’m supposed to be,” so we may as well make where we’re supposed to be gratifying by getting our own lives. What do you think?

#GettingYourOwnLife #ChangeOnlyMe

In This Together,
Kim

Photo credit to Pixabay.com.
Thanks for passing along the quote, Iain Boyd.

Choose Well (a distracted Martha in a world that admires merry Mary)

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“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” Nelson Mandela

I’ve heard about Martha and Mary so often, I almost zoned out during Sunday’s sermon because the message is always the same, “Be merry like Mary.”

The biblical story (Luke 10:38-42 NIV) is about Martha preparing the house and food, and worrying about many things. While she worked, her sister Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and listened.

Instead of learning from Mary, I’ve sat in plenty of pews and resented her. What “Martha” wouldn’t? Mary didn’t mind sitting around while her sister worked. And Jesus didn’t suggest Mary help Martha so both women could sit at his feet. Instead, Martha ended up fatigued and frustrated while Jesus commended Mary for choosing well.

It wasn’t until last Sunday that I heard the sisters’ story changed up and Martha talked about with compassion. I had never heard anyone give her a break much less show her grace. I had never thought to do either one myself. I spent my time wishing I wasn’t like her.

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I teared up when I heard our minister talk gently about the Martha in scripture, as well as all the Marthas in the sanctuary.

For the first time, instead of focusing on and resenting Mary, I fell in love with Martha. I understood how hard it was for her to stop working, to stop doing, to stop trying. I heard how she loved Jesus like Mary loved him even though Martha couldn’t sit still and enjoy moments with him. I felt sad hearing how Martha missed the moment, the magic, and the message (from a quote by Rev. Chuck Murphy).

What I’d thought was Jesus’ criticism of Martha turned out to be his encouragement when he told her, “Do these things.”

He wanted Martha to follow Mary’s example, and not because Martha disappointed him and Mary was favored, but because he loved Martha. He wanted her, like Mary, to choose well.

 I thought, Maybe it’s time to forgive Mary, and time to make friends with Martha and myself.

I wish I could put into words what that moment was like, the moment I felt grace for who I am. I’ve wanted to think differently about Martha in the midst of a world that admires Mary, but still wants the job done. I’ve wanted to accept Martha’s dilemma in a world that secretly believes good works get us to heaven no matter how often the church says it’s by grace, and this may be the same church where we feel guilty for not doing enough. I wanted to help Martha in a world where we’re reminded we have a purpose, but we forget the reason is to glorify God, not “worthify” ourselves

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I gently remind myself a dozen times a day when I’m working feverishly, worrying, or distracted, “There you go again being Martha.”

This simple prompt helps me slow down and choose well. It helps me with #GettingYourOwnLife. It helps me “look up” like in this quote shared on Facebook by friend Lucille Zimmerman. Thanks, Lucille.

“The moon was reigning over their world, glowing its full splendor to all those willing to look up.” Irina Serban

 I hope something in this post helps you, as well.

In This Together,
A recovering Martha

Thanks for the golden photo that looks like heaven, Joel Carter. Thanks for the other photos, Pixabay.com.

 

Speaking up Trumps Shutting down

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“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” Coco Chanel

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I’m voting for Donald Trump. There, I said it.

And, believe it or not, this is not a political blog post. It’s a personal one, as well as the only one I could make sense of this week. The other post I tried to write during the wee hours after the Republican National Convention read like a crazy person wrote it, which is what happens when I shut up and shut down.

Yes, I am blogging about speaking up … again.

I stayed quiet early on about my vote because I was unsure even though I liked much of what Trump stood for. However, I thought, No way because he seemed an unlikely candidate and No way because others didn’t agree. Nonetheless, he’s the candidate out of 17 who came to mind every time I prayed for our country and about my choice. To clarify, I’m not saying Trump is God’s choice. I’m just telling you what happened when I prayed. As Trump’s popularity mounted, so did my confidence in my pick for President, but not to the point of sharing it with anyone.

I was vague about my vote when I posted an article on Facebook the night Trump swept my home state of South Carolina during the primary. The opinion piece I shared gave an accurate account of why voters like me showed up at the polls and cast the same vote I did. I agreed with its writer, I voted in part out of fear, but mostly I voted my conscience.

Click here to read the article by Andrew Shain @ thestate.com, “How Donald Trump won the SC GOP Primary.”

Aside from this story, I’ve remained silent and figured I’d lay low throughout the election. I mean, why speak up? Unless, of course, you’re a writer who is blocked because you’re not writing what you’re supposed to be writing …

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This whole speaking up thing resurfaced last Thursday evening while I watched the convention. I teared up when I heard how proud Ivanka was of her father. I planned to turn off Trump and finish my weekly blog post since time was running out, but I couldn’t break away. I was so stirred by his speech, I spent the evening supporting him on friends’ pages and commenting about highlights from his speech.

When it crossed my mind to share the same sentiments on my own page, I scared myself with images of what I’d seen for months on Facebook – unfriending, mocking, arrogance, and hateful criticism. I thought, I’m not writing about Trump anywhere online. It’ll have to be enough to cast my vote for him in November.

“If I feel strongly about something, I have a responsibility to speak up about it once.” Anonymous

Speaking aloud, like Coco said in her quote, helped me figure out a few things this week, and I figured them out fast.

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I figured out fast, voting is not enough. Not for me, anyway. Since I didn’t honor what I wanted to write on my Facebook page, I couldn’t put together a cohesive paragraph for last week’s half-finished blog post, the one about Focus. Yeah, I couldn’t focus on Focus. For days I couldn’t write. It seemed the only explanation was my brain shut down until I paid homage to my heart.

“What is the source of our first suffering? It lies in the fact that we hesitated to speak. It was born in the moment when we accumulated silent things within us.” Gaton Bachelard

#SpeakUpinsteadofShutUpandShutDown

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I figured out fast, glossing over what a person doesn’t want me to say does not guarantee he/she will be a friend or even kind. It only guarantees I’ll have to do more glossing to maintain the relationship.

“We’ve all become so conscious of how we’ll be perceived and so frightened to possibly offend someone that we’ve filtered ourselves to what borders on dishonesty.” Aaron Blaylock

#SpeakUpinsteadofGlossOver

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I figured out fast, more is at stake than my writing. When I don’t speak up, I sacrifice my sanity and give up my dignity.

“Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth telling, truth speaking, truth living, and truth loving.” James E. Faust

#SpeakUpinsteadofGiveUp

Now, maybe I can finish my blog post about Focus and move on to the next one.

#SpeakUp #withrespect #WhileLovingthePeopleInIt

In This Together,
Kim

Thanks for the photos, Pixabay.com.

 

Living Out Loud

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“If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud.” Emile Zola

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“Mammy, stop talking, okay? Look at Lalaloopsy,” said Claire, my nearly three-year-old granddaughter. She held up one hand to interrupt me, while the other was on her hip right before she reached for her baby doll.

This was in response to me saying, “Well, Claire, I think it’s time for …”

She’d already had a bath, snack, and story time, so all that remained was bedtime. I guess she hoped to change up the conversation and get out of it.

I thought, I bet your granddaddy wishes he could pull off your cuteness when he changes the topic while I’m telling him he still isn’t listening well.

I thought about my grown son and daughter who’d probably appreciate a grin like I gave Claire instead of a glare when they try to shut me up with “Mom, …” said in two syllables and in a tone that, if you’re a mother, you know grinds off this page.

My friend probably wished I’d laughed along when, like Claire, she used hand signals to wave away my mention of depression as she rambled about how grateful she and I should be for never experiencing anything like it. She said, “Not you. You’re happy and funny.”

She’d sat in spiritual groups where I’d shared about bouts with depression, as well as sitting across the table like this evening and talking one-on-one. All I wanted was a to-go box and my check before I said something critical like, “Why do we bother to get together? Is it so you can change the subject? I mean, what’s the point?”

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“The work of the artist is to express what is repressed or even to speak the unspoken grief of society.” Michael Leunig

My husband listened that evening after I crammed the box into the refrigerator and talked about my sad lot in life. I said, “How could she not know I’ve been depressed? Or maybe she didn’t want to hear it?”

With him as my witness, I accused her of being thoughtless toward others. I talked about how she asked questions, but only if those questions bring the conversation back around to her. I mentioned how she had something to prove with every point she made and how she always, always, always had an agenda, usually political over personal. I blamed her a dozen times for a ruined evening before I talked about myself and how I felt.

I hurt when I’m not heard. Therefore, instead of running off with my to-go box, I need to speak up.

A friend cautioned me about this … about friends and my conversations when I’d whine no one listened to me, tell how everyone interrupted, and settled on shutting up as the solution. She bolstered me time and again, but kept asking the same question I was tempted to ask my other friend at dinner, “What’s the point?”

My point was to make them listen to me.

My friend’s point was for me to say what I have to say. To speak up. To live out loud. 

Even though she’s been gone for years, I can almost sense my friend’s relief now that I’m finally listening to her.

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Here’s the stuff that’s made it hard to say what I have to say:

  • I’m living out loud on my blog and in person even though I dislike confrontation.
  • I’m living out loud on my blog and in person even though I’m uncomfortable with being perceived as confrontational.
  • I’m living out loud even when people don’t like what I have to say.
  • I’m living out loud instead of screaming when I’m not heard the first time or the second or the third. With each repetition, what I want gets clearer even to me.
  • I’m living out loud even though I shake, which happens when I’m afraid I won’t be heard yet again. I say what I have to say until I am heard. It helps I’m a former kindergarten teacher.

Here’s the stuff that’s made it worth it:

I’m “living out loud” because of the tremendous gift of being heard on my blog and videos.

I’m “living out loud” because of how significant speaking up and being heard has been toward restoration and happiness and toward getting my own life. A friend remarked, “Have you noticed how much happier you seem?”

Why, yes, I have.

I’m “living out loud” because of my daughter and my granddaughter and my daughter-in-law; because of my quiet friends who have bold statements to make, but they’re not sure they can; because of friends I care deeply about who aren’t speaking up to their husbands and grown children and parents even though they need to; because I wish someone had spoken up for me when, even though I looked capable, I didn’t feel it.

I’m “living out loud” so Claire remembers she told me to stop talking, but I didn’t. And so she won’t either.

What did you come into this life to do?

In This Together,
Kim